All Shook Up

Baby, Don't Go

Baby, I'm Yours

Be My Baby

Bending the Rules

Coming Undone

Exposure

Getting Lucky

Head Over Heels

Hot and Bothered

Just For Kicks

Obsessed

Present Danger

Shadow Dance

Skintight
 

 
Burning Up
by Susan Andersen
(HQN, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0373-77498-2
****
Macy O'James is used to garnering attention. For the last ten years, she has been in L.A. where she hit it big "acting" in some steamy music videos. To a teenager, she is the epitome of their dream girl. Most recently, Macy has been behind the scenes, working with several artists as their music video concept consultant. She hears the music and is great at visioning the words in a video. Her money came from being in front of the cameras but her heart is behind it. Macy is back in Sugarville, Washington to help her cousin who is injured and undergoing physical therapy. Macy has a reputation, but the attention she is getting is not the kind she likes.

Macy was a wild child as a teenager - after being dumped on her aunt and uncle by her wandering mother - with most of her reputation undeserved. Macy got on the bad side of the high school hottie, who promptly spread rumors of her promiscuity in less than flattering terms. To add insult to the injury, his ex-girlfriend was the town sweetheart and she took a dislike to Macy for stealing her man. Add a little accident when a group of teens were drinking and Macy left town with little to no mourning.

Even ten years doesn't quell some of the feelings from the townspeople. Her male nemesis from high school is now a well-known businessman and the female is the mayor's arm candy wife. They still resent Macy. As self-defense, Macy puts on her "Hollywood" look in order to shock and awe the town. No one hurts her feelings when she wears the costumes and armor of a made-up facade.

But Macy is herself when at her auny's and uncle's home and with her cousin. She is just fun-loving and sincere Macy, a warm, caring, down-home girl who just wants to enjoy her work and her life. One of her best friends may be a famous rock singer, but he is just a normal guy under his exterior too. When he shows up needing some time away, the town is in an uproar and Macy is thankful for his steady friendship.

Macy is caught off guard by the new guy in town. Gabriel Donovan is the fire chief, who came to town after Macy had left. Gabe is intrigued by the two Macys he sees. He is a boarder at the family;s B&B and sees the Macy who is a great "aunt" to her cousins' child. He respects the Macy who is ready to lend a hand to her aging aunt and uncle without making them feel that she is interfering. And he sees the softer, caring Macy as she helps her cousin without being too intrusive and making her feel devalued.

But Gabe is bewildered by the Macy he sees in town. This is the brash, bold and outrageously dressed Macy, with looks to kill and make-up to add to the persona. He is attracted to both and determined to get to know her enough to figure out why the two personas. Behind it all is an arsonist who so far is targeting empty buildings. But when Macy almost gets hurt and Gabe starts to suspect it is one of the volunteer firemen behind the fires, he has a lot on his plate to deal with.

I truly enjoyed this book. Macy drew the reader in immediately with her brashness and underlying vulnerability. As her story was exposed and the truths about all those years ago revealed, Macy grew into a character that made the reader empathize and recognize themselves as a teenager. Donovan was a hero worthy of the name. He was macho when he needed to be and caring when it suited his nature. His vulnerabilities weren't as well developed but the reader got to know what made him tick and could easily relate to his sensibilities and strengths. He and Macy clicked and were well matched.

If I had to find a criticism, it would be some of the stereotypes of the townspeople. These were people with no depth and were easy to classify. But their very two-dimensional nature made them less real and more a character-type for the sake of the story.

Overall, Burning Up was enjoyable, sensual, engaging and filled with some hot romance. Macy and Donovan are two people larger than life who find lives by being with each other. Don't hesitate to light the fire and enjoy.

--Shirley Lyons


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